What to wear if returning to the office

Posted by: Maria Macklin, September 17, 2021


What to wear if returning to the office

Are you returning to the office having spent the past 18 months working from home? Many who are, aren’t sure anymore how to show up appropriately for an office environment.

A study carried out by TotalJobs.com in 2017 found that the average woman spends 14 minutes per day deciding what to wear to work; which equates to four months of a working life. Imagine if you could do that thinking in advance, rather than every morning so you have the right wardrobe for your personality, lifestyle and your work dress code, while feeling confident, visible and empowered.

Here are five simple guidelines to help you switch back into office appropriate work wear.  

Start in your own wardrobe

The most sustainable place to start is in your own wardrobe. You may unearth items that you may have forgotten about.  A capsule work wardrobe could be three bottoms – either skirts or trousers; six tops; two jackets or cardigans; one coat; shoes. When you have three suitable bottoms and six tops that go with them, you already have 18 outfits. Add in a jacket or cardigan and you double the number of outfits without buying any more clothes. This formula works for both men and women. It goes without saying that these should all be in colours and styles that are flattering for you.

Dress with authenticity

Individuals who feel comfortable showing their personality in some aspect of their dress, even if it may be perceived as quirky or odd, inherently feel more confident, distinguishable, and set apart from the crowd. When you feel like you’re dressing for someone else you undermine your confidence. Don’t allow yourself to feel like you’re playing a part in someone else’s movie. You need to look like “you” and not like “everyone else.” If you aren’t yourself, who are you?

Check the environment and understand the expected dress code

If you’re moving into a new environment, know what is expected. Find out from the HR team or your manager what the dress code is. It can be very awkward when you walk into an office or meeting and you are either overdressed or underdressed. Where there isn’t a documented dress code, observe and watch what those around you are doing.

Pay attention to the details

The details and accessories we wear, from lipstick and earrings to necklace, tie or cufflinks, all send out messages to our audience. They give us rank and elevate our look, not only adding to our own confidence but changing how we are perceived by those with whom we communicate. Where you know you’ll be presenting online or participating in online settings check your cameo area and ensure you have impact from the waist up.

If you feel confident in a certain colour, wear it!

The colours you wear are a huge consideration. Certain colours will be more flattering on you than others - invest in a colour analysis. Wearing colour makes you feel a certain way. For example, red is perceived as a power colour. Athletes who wore red worked harder during a match than athletes who wore blue. Although this did not affect the outcome, it shows that the colour you wear can impact your level of self-confidence.

While neutral colours give gravitas, impact colours will keep you visible. When you have a colour analysis, you’ll understand whether your best neutrals are navy, brown, grey, beige, white, black or cream. (By the way, black can be worn successfully by only one quarter of the population.) Adding one of your best impact colours will keep you visible for the all the right reasons, will give you confidence and you will feel empowered. You will differentiate yourself from those around you. You will be seen, heard and valued.